Last night, a series of e-mails from the night of the 9/11 Benghazi attacks were released. The e-mails were from the State Department to various high level groups and intelligence agencies within the government. Among them were the White House Situation Room, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the FBI.
These e-mails, which discuss the nature of the attack and those who claimed responsibility in the immediate aftermath, give rise to serious doubts to the story that the administration was using the “best information at hand” when they were telling the American people that the attack was the result of a video.
Below are excerpts of the e-mails, beginning at 4:05pm EST on September 11th.
“US Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack” — “approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four COM (Chief of Mission/embassy) personnel are in the compound safe haven.”
At 4:54 p.m., less than an hour later, another alert: “the firing… in Benghazi…has stopped…A response team is on site attempting to locate COM (embassy) personnel.”
Then, at 6:07 p.m., State sent out another alert saying the embassy in Tripoli reported the Islamic military group “Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibilty for Benghazi Attack”… “on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli.”
Ansar al-Sharia has been declared by the State Department to be an “al-Qaeda affiliated group.”
These e-mails were sent during, and immediately following, the attack on our Benghazi consulate. Why, then, were various arms of the Obama administration so confused about what to tell the American people? If they already had an al-Qaeda linked group claiming responsibility for the attack hours after it had occurred, why is the Obama Administration’s explanatory timeline so muddled?
Below is a look at when and what the administration was saying at various times following the attack.
September 12: President Obama is in the Rose Garden. While talking about the Benghazi attack, and 9/11/01, he declares that, “[n]o acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation…” Yet he fails to actually say that the Benghazi attack was, in fact, an act of terror.
September 15: Despite the Libyan President’s assertion that the Benghazi attack was planned “for months,” Ambassador Rice tells CBS’ Face the Nation that “based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present, is that, in fact, it began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to [the Cairo protests] that were sparked by this hateful video.” Rice went on to say, “We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was pre-meditated or pre-planned.” [Emphasis mine].
September 18: Whitehouse Press Secretary, Jay Carney, doubled down on Ambassador Rice’s remarks from 3 days prior. [Emphasis mine]
“Based on information that we — our initial information … we saw no evidence to back up claims by others that this was a preplanned or premeditated attack; that we saw evidence that it was sparked by the reaction to this video.” Carney went on to say “that is what we know” based on “concrete evidence, not supposition.”
September 20: For the first time since the Benghazi attack, the Whitehouse acknowledges that it was an act of terrorism, as Carney changes his story.
“It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Our embassy was attacked violently and the result was four deaths of American officials – that’s self-evident.”
September 20: That very same day, on a Univision forum, President Obama offers a different take when asked whether the attack was an act of terror.
I don’t want to speak to something until we have all the information. What we do know, is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video, were used as an excused as an excuse by the extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.”
In light of the e-mail evidence now in hand, evidence that was readily available to the highest levels of the Obama administration practically in real time, how could the they peddle the theory that the Benghazi attack was a reaction to a film?
The e-mails show that plenty was known about the nature of the attack as it was happening. Moreover, they stand in stark contrast to the Obama Administration’s continued insistence that the so called video-explanation was based on “the best information we have to date.”